Originally, I published this article in 2008 when we were dropping Caleb off for his Freshman year at Westmont. I’m republishing it today because we just attended Joseph’s Freshman orientation and Service of Commitment. This tradition of making a formal commitment as the school year begins, brings into clearer focus what our purpose is. As you and your children begin this school year, whether they are going to school or being homeschooled I hope reading the litanies at the end of this article brings you clarity and hope for the year.
Last week (Sept. 2008) we dropped two of our sons off at Westmont College to begin another year. It’s always an emotional time and Westmont seems determined to make it more so. One of the elements to Freshman orientation is the Service of Commitment. I thought part of it worth repeating here as we begin a new year. If you are unfamiliar with Westmont college it is a small, Christian, liberal arts college in Santa Barbara…Montecito actually. It is built on an old estate and everywhere on campus you are either going up or down the hill…very little is flat.
(quick note, the pics are not mine but Merrill Pirates, and came up when I googled Westmont images.)
When students graduate from Westmont they gather on Kerrwood lawn which is on the top end of campus and march together, for the last time, down the paths through campus to the baseball field which are set up for graduation. They are led by bagpipers, next comes all the faculty in their academic robes, and lastly, the the students. As you sit you can hear the faint sound of the bagpipes moving from the top of campus down until they emerge onto the ballfields. Once there, the faculty, instead of continuing to their seats lines the path the graduates take and cheers and applauds them as they pass by. It’s a great tradition and especially moving for parents who were at the service of commitment.
The Service of Commitment is the last event parents attend during Freshman orientation. The service takes place in the gymnasium, which is at the lower end of campus. At the end of the service the bagpipes start to play and they lead the faculty and students on the ‘first walk’ onto campus, following the path they will come down at graduation…but this is the walk in, the beginning for these incoming Freshmen. The walk ends on Kerwood lawn with a reception for students, faculty, and parents, and a chance to say your last good-byes to students before heading home.
Although this is long I wanted to copy the Litanies of Commitment that are said. They are a good reminder of what we are doing as we work to educate our children in these years before college and life. There is a ‘Commitment’ for the Leader, in this case read by the President of the College, Dr. Gayle Beebe, a ‘Commitment’ for the parents, the faculty, and the students. Maybe you want to write up commitments of your own as you enter this new year of Homeschooling.
Leader: Today, we gather in the shelter of God’s Presence, knowing that He has brought us to this place, for this time, and for His Purposes. And knowing, too, that He has brought us here together – as parents, students and faculty and staff – because, in accomplishing His purposes, He works on us through each other to build a redemptive, learning community. At this time, we want to commit ourselves in each other’s presence to be fully available to God’s purposes for this moment – to the invitations that He has issued, to the opportunities that are opening out before us, to the people He is calling us to know and love, and to the tasks that He is preparing for us to do.
Parents: Today, in this place, we commit our sons and daughters first, into God’s hands, and then into the care of the Westmont community, for this next season of their lives. We will pray for the members of this community -faculty, staff, and students, as they seek together to be learning and growing to the Glory of God. We commit ourselves to pray for ________ that he/she will be open to all the opportunities, the challenges and the joys that lie ahead.
Faculty and Staff: Today, in this place, we renew our response to God’s invitation to be shepherds and teachers in this redemptive, learning community. In our work, we will seek always to serve gratefully, diligently, and with integrity. In our work, we will seek always to serve effectively, humbly, and with grace and joy. To our students, we commit ourselves to challenge you in ways that will strengthen, but not defeat you. To the parents, we commit ourselves to honor the trust that you have shown in bringing your sons and daughters to Westmont College.
Students: Today, in this place, we eagerly walk through the door that God has opened before us here at Westmont College. We commit ourselves to carefully and responsibly handle the gift of learning that is being offered to us. We commit ourselves to each other – to treasure each other, to affirm each other as individuals created in God’s image and to call each other to be the people God is calling us to be. To our parents, we commit to honor the time, the resources and the love that you have invested in us. To the faculty and staff, we commit ourselves to be honest, active and faithful participants in the process of getting an education to the Glory of God.